Hastings Chess Congress 2010-11 (4)
Hastings Round 4 Report
FM Steve Giddins - Saturday 1st January 2011
Steve Giddins reports on the Hastings Masters Round 4.
All the best films have a sequel (or two, or three, not to mention a "prequel" nowadays, as well...), so a brief revisiting of our Chessplayers' Film Club theme seems only appropriate. Ian Hustwayte points out that we have missed The Fischer King, whilst our commentator here at Hastings, Chris Ward, will probably never forgive me for not having quoted Enter the Dragon. The latter was another offering from John Saunders, who also contributed Paint your Stellwagen, Gunfight at Diez del Corral and Cape Flear. I had been intending to spare you some of his more excruciating puns, such as Bridge Euwe the River Kwai and Kind Hartston and Coronets, but my good intentions seem to have evaporated over the past 24 hours. Finally, I was delighted to receive a message from GM Peter Wells, who writes: " An appalling slur on a respected colleague, I realise, but once you have had the idea Dial Emms for Murder, it is difficult entirely to put it to one side!". Indeed it is!
Another New Year's Eve has come and gone in Hastings, and I, and the rest of the congress team wish you all the very best for 2011. One person who will be glad to forget the final day of 2010 is Valeriy Neverov. Yesterday, he faced David Howell on top board, in the battle of the only remaining 100% scores in round 4 of the 2010/11 Hastings Masters. Sadly for the Ukrainian, who has three times won or shared first at Hastings, this game was over in the very opening, as he forgot Nunn's Law, and fell into a hoary old trap:
Howell,David (2616) - Neverov,Valeriy (2544) [B81]
Hastings Masters (4.1), 31.12.2010
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 h3 This move, which was the legendary Bobby Fischer's idea against the Najdorf, has recently experienced something of a revival in popularity. 6 ..e6 7 g4 b5 8 Bg2 Bb7 9 0-0 Be7?? A dreadful blunder, which effectively ends the game at once. Neverov evidently forgot "Nunn's Law", which states that "Loose piece drop off". Observe, please, the loose prelate on b7...
10 e5! Bxg2 10...dxe5 11 Bxb7 Ra7 12 Bc6+ Kf8 13 Ndxb5 axb5 14 Qxd8+ Bxd8 15 Bxb5 is equally hopeless. 11 exf6 Bxf1 12 fxe7 Qxe7 13 Qxf1 White has two minor pieces for a rook and pawn. On the face of it, this may sound like little or no material advantage at all, but in fact, in such a middlegame, the advantage is almost decisive at GM level. The problem for Black is that two pieces are better than one - White can attack a weakness twice, whilst Black can only defend it once. 13 ..0-0 14 b3 Rc8 15 Bb2 Nc6 16 Qd3 Ne5 17 Qe3 Ng6 18 Rd1 Qa7 19 Rd2 Rc7 20 Qg3 b4 21 Nd1 Qc5 22 Nf3 Rac8 23 Ne3 Rd7
24 h4 Having manoeuvered his pieces into position, Howell starts a decisive attack on the enemy king. 24...Ne7 25 h5 Qa5 26 h6 f6 27 Rxd6 Qc7 28 Rxd7 Qxd7 29 hxg7 e5 30 g5 1-0
That left David Howell in sole lead on 4/4 and it was another English player, Tom Rendle, who delighted the home crowd. (Tom is originally from Hastings) by seizing outright second place. This came by dint of a curious win against Simon Williams. The latter adopted Alekhine's Defence for possibly the first time in his life, and reached a perfectly good position, but threw it all away with a strange tactical decision:
Rendle,Thomas (2391) - Williams,K (2493) [B05]
Hastings Masters (4.3), 31.12.2010
1 e4 Nf6 2 e5 Nd5 3 d4 d6 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 c4 Nb6 6 exd6 exd6 7 Be2 Bg4 8 d5 Bxf3 9 Bxf3 Ne5 10 Be2 Be7 11 0-0 0-0 12 Qc2 Bf6 13 a4 a5 14 Ra3 Re8 15 Rh3 g6 16 Nd2
16...Nc6?? Black would stand very satisfactorily after 16 ..Ned7 Instead, Simon prefers a more spectacular knight retreat, but he had clearly miscalculated something badly, and the move turns his position to dust almost immediately. 17 dxc6 Rxe2 18 cxb7 Rb8 19 Qd3 Qe7 20 Nb3 Black is already lost. 20 ..Qe4 21 Nxa5 Qxd3 22 Rxd3 Nxa4 23 b4 Bc3 24 Be3 c5 25 Rxd6 Bxb4 26 Rc6 Nb6 27 Bf4 1-0
Lower down the tournament, another Hastings player came close to taking a major scalp. My BCM Associate Editor Bernard Cafferty had a golden opportunity to beat Kotronias, after catching the GM with a nice piece of tactical alertness:
Cafferty,Bernard (2133) - Kotronias,Vasilios 2591 (2591) [E60]
Hastings Masters (4.24), 31.12.2010
1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 b4 Bg7 4 Bb2 0-0 5 e3 d6 6 Be2 e5 7 d4 e4 8 Nfd2 h5 9 Nc3 Re8 10 Qc2 Bf5 11 h3 Nc6 12 Qb3 Qd7 13 0-0-0 a6 14 Rdg1 h4 15 g4 hxg3 16 Rxg3 d5 17 cxd5 Ne7 18 Nc4 Nexd5 19 Ne5 Qd6 20 Rhg1 Be6? Black is doing well here, and would stand clearly better after Kotronias' suggestion 20...Re7 Instead, he misses White's 22nd. 21 Nxd5 Nxd5
22 Nxg6! Nxb4 Taking the knight is fatal, because of 22 ..fxg6 23 Rxg6 Re7 24 Bg4 23 Ne7+? [Missing a golden opportunity. By unleashing the Sokolsky bishop, with the thematic 23 d5! White could obtain a winning game, eg: 23...Bxd5 24 Ne7+ Kf8 25 Nf5 Qc5+ 26 Bc4! Black's problem is that exchanging bishops with check on b2 does not help, since Rg8 mate is threatened thereafter.] 23...Kf8 24 Nf5 Bxb3 25 Nxd6 Nxa2+ 26 Kb1 cxd6 27 Rxg7 Rac8 28 Ba3? Now the advantage swings back to Black, and he never lets go again. Instead, a move such as 28 h4 would have maintained the balance. 28 ..Rc6 29 Kb2 Bd5 30 Bh5 Rb6+ 31 Ka1 Nb4 32 Bxb4 Rxb4
In addition to his pawn deficit, White also has serious problems with his king. 33 Rh7 Ke7 34 Rg5 Rb5 35 Rf5 Rc8 36 Rxd5 Rxd5 37 Bxf7 Ra5+ 38 Kb2 Rb5+ 39 Bb3+ Kd8 40 Ka2 Rc3 41 Be6 Rc2+ 0-1
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